Streaming Sucks

Looking at why the monthly subscription model doesn’t work.

Peter Harris
Jan 18, 2017 · 6 min read

What’s often missed in all the debate is the core of the problem — the monthly model itself simply doesn’t work.

For anybody.

Why Artists Lose From Streaming

The infographic above pretty much says it all. It’s a remix of a complete analysis from Information is Beautiful. As a signed artist, the only way you’re gonna make minimum wage via YouTube (still by far the world’s largest music streamer) is if you becoming massively famous. Over 4M streams. Crazy stupid famous.

$1.29 iTunes download — 30% Apple fee = $.90 for artist
.90 / .006* = 150 plays

This is the lower end of their quoted rates, but it’s actually even less than that considering aggregators take a cut and it’s almost impossible to find anyone that has actually been paid that much.

Why Fans Lose From Streaming

At first glance, it seems like the fans aren’t hurting at all with monthly subscription models.

  • When you lost wi-fi connectivity?
  • When you over-extended on your mobile data plan?
  • And are you really sure you want to remain fiscally indebted to these services year upon year, essentially just renting the music you love, but never owning it?

Why Streaming Services Lose From Streaming

What’s the most obvious indicator of success in capitalist-based economies? Profit. So we can start off asking if the monthly subscription model works by asking, who among the streaming services is profitable? The stats speak for themselves.

Another Model is Possible

So hopefully we’ve seen some clear evidence that the $10 a month subscription model doesn’t work for a lot of different reasons. But is there a way to still have our streaming cake and eat it too? Yes indeed…

Introducing “Stream to Own”

We’ve written extensively about this exciting new model elsewhere, so let’s just look at the basics. By employing a “pay as you go” model instead of monthly subscription, we immediately enable the majority of listeners who can’t afford a monthly plan to enjoy an on-demand service. We do this through micro-payment credits that operate on an easy-to-use incremental system… gradual price increases over time:

Digital content creators are the canaries in the coalmine for a wave of disruption that hasn’t even BEGUN to crest.

Solve these issues for artists and we may end up solving them for everyone else in the process.


Resonate - streaming music, culture and beyond

Peter Harris

Written by

Founder + CEO of Resonate, a streaming music cooperative


Resonate - streaming music, culture and beyond